Following one volunteer’s journey across the US
By: Lauren Speirs
Pam Austin (right) in Silent Sky
In Massachusetts, Pam Austin was a student of voice in high school and was expected to audition for every performance the school had to offer – including musicals and plays. “I was a Senior and the next audition was for Fiddler on The Roof. I was not interested but I had to audition.” Pam found out she landed the role of Yente, the village’s matchmaker and busybody. “Another classmate wanted the role and burst into tears and I said – great, give it to her! Of course the director pointed out that I wasn’t allowed to recast the show.” Luckily for Pam, her friends, family, and director told her she should take the fun opportunity and just do it!
From there, her director suggested that she major in theatre in college; which Pam was excited to pursue. Her college professor also encouraged her to continue her acting pursuits after graduation so she went to the Neighborhood Playhouse in NYC. Eventually, she decided she wanted to pursue a career in television and film.
Originally from Andover, Massachusetts, Pam decided to move to Boston and worked on TV shows and two national commercials – one of which appeared in the Super Bowl! In 1991, she was due to arrive in Los Angeles but was in a horrific accident. “It took me about a year to get my full strength back to walk.”
Once rehabilitated, she finally set off to LA where she landed in a lot of movies as an extra. Pam says, “The highlight was eating pizza with Timothy Hutton on the backlot of Paramount studios!” While achieving all of her acting dreams, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit Northridge, Los Angeles and made her change paths. Between Pam’s accident and the earthquake she experienced, the idea to change course quickly set in. “I thought to myself – ‘maybe I’m not meant to be doing this.’”
“I had a normal life after that – I got married, got a house, and a ‘real’ job.” Skipping ahead to 2017, Pam decided to make the move to Naples. “My two brothers were living in Naples at the time and I thought – why not?! I was walking on 5th Avenue and noticed the theatre (The Naples Players). When I walked in, I asked someone – ‘is this a professional theatre?’ and they said ‘no it’s a community theatre!’”
Pam Austin in Always a Bridesmaid
Pam wasted no time getting involved. “I got a tour from the theatre and started volunteering. I work in the bar when I’m not on stage. I finally auditioned and my first role was Monette in Always a Bridesmaid and afterwards I was in Silent Sky.” Both of these productions were in the Tobye Studio Theatre so this will be Pam’s first time on the stage of Blackburn Hall in Boeing Boeing.
“It was awesome to come back to live theater. I was so happy I could still memorize lines! I had a good gap there from the last time I did live performances so I’m very happy to be back.” Even for someone with so much professional experience, Pam loves the environment at The Naples Players. “Everyone is so supportive and encouraging. You want to participate and you want to help out – it’s that type of feeling. It’s nice to have a base community of friends here and all of those people in it.”
“From longtime professionals to first time performers, The Naples Players is a theatre for everyone,” says Bryce Alexander, CEO & Executive Artistic Director. “We combine the best of both worlds to create a quality, fun, and collaborative environment that has become the envy of the theatre world – and we couldn’t do it without our wonderful volunteer artists.”
If you’re interested in volunteering for The Naples Players contact our Director of Volunteers, Pamela Larkin Caruso at 239 434 7340 ext 104 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. From working at the bar to acting on stage, we’ve got opportunities for everyone!